OK, this post is for those who are forever complaining about long waiting times at hospitals despite prior appointments for their consultations.
A recent spate of letters in the Straits Times forum page again highlights this evergreen grouch.
I used to belong to this group of complainants.
I just couldn’t understand why long arranged appointments couldn’t be kept by the good doctors, important though they might be as specialists, holding our lives in their hands.
Then age and experience — countless trips to specialist clinics with my mum and other close relatives — have taught me that actually, the large majority of the medical fraternity is caring and hard working.
(Except for one horrible doctor and hospital, both of which shall remain nameless to protect their guilt and let their punishment come not from public odium but from their own conscience — though this is probably fat hope on my part!)
For the rest, being up close with pain, fear and suffering on a daily basis hasn’t desensitise them one bit where their patients are concerned.
Instead, when they keep patients waiting it’s because no two cases are alike and even for the same kind of disease, what might be straight forward in one case, could be complicated and emotional in another.
I’ve seen specialists work well beyond lunch time; I’ve seen them dashing to the hospital’s food court for a quick bite and then back to their consulting room and/or a ward round.
Of cos, I must add the caveat that most, if not all, of my experience is based on what I’ve gone through and witnessed at Tan Tock Seng Hospital which I visit with regularity to fill prescriptions for mum as well as for her to have her blood tested, her bones and chest X-rayed/MRI/whatever and of course for her to see her various specialists.
Over the years, I’ve devised ways to keep cool during the long waits.
First is to separate the tests from the consultation. It could be done at TTSH, so long as the tests aren’t done too far ahead. It means making two trips but it shortens the time of each visit. Also, some of the waiting time to see the doctor could be due to the doctor waiting for the test results, if the tests are done the same day. So, if tests results are already out could mean shorter waiting time to see the doctor!
Second, bring plenty of reading material and/or craft work, so that you have something to concentrate on other than the slow ticking of the clock.
Third, engage your companions in waiting, especially if like me, you are the care-giver and not the patient who may justifiably be anxious about his/her test results and the doctor’s pronouncement.
If you adopt my strategy, you would be surprised how fast time passes!
Also, you may learn new useful stuff that you never thought of.
For example, during my last visit last week, I learned from someone — who was waiting for the same doctor as my mum — how to suss out a fake Kipling bag from a real one!
It’s all in the hands of the key chain Monkey mascot that comes with every bag.
The hands of the Monkey of a fake bag are bigger than those of the real McCoy, this woman declared. She was carrying a large red Kipling bag.
As I’m also a Kipling bag fan, I checked my cache as soon as I got home. The bags were bought from the Kipling shop at Bugis Junction as well as from various shops in Shenzhen and Zhuhai and pasar malam stalls in Singapore.
Alas, only the bags from Bugis Junction are genuine. And my informant’s tip is supported by another tip I got from the Internet. The fake bag’s Monkey has a Kipling tag sewn on its body. For the real stuff, the tag is on the Monkey’s arm.
Two Monkeys from my collection say it all.